“Possible” Russian offensive on the first anniversary of the war: Defense of Ukraine

The first anniversary of the Russian-Ukrainian war is less than three weeks away and Ukraine has announced that it is anticipating possible Russian offensives to commemorate this date.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Russia “loves symbolism” and that the strikes on February 24, 2023, the anniversary of the war, would not be exaggerated.

“We are still, of course, waiting for possible offensives from the Russians, because it’s February, they like symbolism – February 24 will be a year since the start of this invasion, the open phase of the Ukrainian-Russian war, which started in 2014,” Reznikov said. said Sunday at a press conference. “That’s why we expect this pressure. We are ready, the armed forces are ready, the staff of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief is constantly monitoring, so there are no unexpected things for you and me. .”

The graves of unidentified people are seen on August 17, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine. Russian forces occupied Bucha for the first month of their assault on Ukraine, before abandoning their plan to seize the Ukrainian capital. Ukraine says there could be “possible” Russian offensives on February 24, 2023.
Photo by Alexey Furman/Getty Images

Russia began positioning troops along the Ukrainian border in late January 2022, particularly along Ukraine’s eastern and northeastern borders. This time last year, Russia also held training exercises with the Belarusian army on the northwestern border of Ukraine, and a Russian invasion seemed obvious.

However, last year around this time the 2022 Winter Olympics were being held in Beijing. It was suspected that Russian President Vladimir Putin would wait until after the Winter Games before any attack.

The Beijing Winter Olympics ended on February 20, 2022, and Russia invaded Ukraine four days later. Russia also invaded and occupied Crimea for a month in 2014, starting just three days before the end of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia.

There is no Winter Olympics this year, but there has been intense fighting between Russia and Ukraine over the past 347 days. Reznikov said that while there hasn’t been an increase in Russian troops in Belarus or the occupied territories, that doesn’t mean an offensive won’t happen.

“To date, on the territory of Belarus, we do not see formed strike groups capable of getting to Kyiv,” Reznikov said. “As of today, there is no such concentration of troops there. According to our estimates, no more than 12,000 Russian troops are on training grounds in Belarus.”

Reznikov added that the war “could have been avoided” if Russian ships had been banned from international ports, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline shut down and international payments with SWIFT had been halted sooner.

“This war could have been avoided in principle if Nord Stream 2 had been stopped, if access to the SWIFT system had been cut off, if Russian ships had been banned from entering international ports, if Europe had stopped buy their gas, which they did in the end anyway, if they started freezing the assets of Russian oligarchs – this war could be avoided,” Reznikov said.

Newsweek contacted the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

Editor’s Note: Shortly after publication, Newsweek learned about the possible transfer of Reznikov from the Ministry of Defense to the Ministry of Strategy and Industry, according to the Kyiv Independent.


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